The smell of fog juice lingers in the air, filling your lungs. Strobe lights flashing all around as you clutch to the person in front of you for safety. The eerie screams of past victims ring in your ears as the creepy Halloween music blares from an unseen source. We can smell your fear, we know you’re coming. We can see you, but can you see us? We camouflage in the dark haze of the mazes, you don’t know we’re near until it’s too late. Are you scared yet? You will be.
Gorey vampires, werewolves, swamp monsters, kill-thrilled clowns, and abused school children are the obvious actors of each room, you pass the horrific scenes thinking that was all there is. Your heart is pounding, and you’re waiting for them to attack or do something. They’re a distraction, you should not fear them. Fight or flight will kick in the second you sense me.
You’re in the dot room now. Circles of bright paint hang on curtains in a tightly enclosed space, you become claustrophobic. With dark makeup on my face and the black ,brightly colored dot costume, you can only see me when I’m inches from you. I have the best view in this haunted house.
Halloween is a time for frights, candy, and costumes. My tradition for the past four years has been volunteering at the Covina Community Center for Girl Scouts helping as a performer who pops out of dark corners and scares the life out of our customers. Personally, I feel the little Dora the Explorers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shouldn’t be scared out of their minds at haunted houses, they just can’t handle it.
When groups of small children take their turns walking through ,we leave the lights on and all scarers come out of their hiding spots in order for the little kids to feel safe going through the mazes. Even then, those in costume or those like me in dark masks have to take the masks off to assure the kids they’re safe and that we’re friendly. This is a hassle, and unfair to the performers who are there to be scary. We shouldn’t have to take off our masks, turn on the lights, group together ,and to sing and dance to allow the kids to still have fun. Despite the reassuring of the children, they’re still terrified to get on their hands and knees through the “Crawl to Freedom” located at the end of the maze. Or to walk through the streamer-hung hallways. Yet some Girl Scouts are still glued to the ground they stand on and have to be forced through. When us performers gather at the end of the night, we don’t just tell the stories of the kids who were utterly terrified, we keep tab of those we’re terrified of. In fact, we have a watch-out list, so we remember the dangerous ones.
One step above the little scaredy-cats is the “I’m not scared of you!” kids who ruin the fun for everyone there who came to be scared. They point out all of the performers, and they’re the ones that simply harass us. They tend to hit, use words they shouldn’t be saying at a Girl Scout event, and get violent trying to prove to their friends their macho and tough enough.
To cope with the total fright, one girl dressed as a Twister game, beat me and other performers with her twister board that she carried around. Another girl that dressed as a tube of lipstick decided to paint the walls and haunters with the lipsticks she brought, as if we didn’t have a lot of makeup on to begin with. We had to pause and scrub it off due to the vibrant colors showing under the black lights. But the worst one of all was from this year.
Rule number one, which every patron is told, is do not touch the actors. Yes, there are exceptions, we do realize our job is to scare you and we may accidently be pushed or hit. This year, a young girl who was coming through our maze came in to my room, the last part of the entire maze. Walking in with swagger as the other girls cower around her, the pre-teen yells loudly, “I know you’re in here! Come out! YOU DON’T SCARE ME!” My partner and I creep up towards the girls, camouflaged into the dotted walls, and jump out at the girls. All but the one screams. Trying to be comical, we keep trying to scare her, me right in front, and my partner behind her. She looks up at me, says hello, and hits me in the face with the lateral side of the water bottle she carried along with her, hitting me in the eye. I take my mask off and start to argue with the girl and her Girl Scout leader. The leader simply wrote it off as an “accident”, when all of us knew she did it on purpose.
Haunted houses aren’t for everyone, especially every child. Only those mature enough should be allowed through, so they don’t ruin the performers and other customer’s fun. We plan for weeks. Money goes into decorating, designing, and painting. And everything for us goes up the day before the event, and taken down after the last customer walks through, a total of two days. We spend hours to dress and go through hair and makeup. With all that trouble and hard work, it’s completely unfair that parents leave their immature kids to be babysat by their Girl Scout leaders who can’t control them, even when escorted through our maze by two other people. For those who are too scared of the maze, the center has crafts and games outside for them to participate in. Problem solved. No one wants to go if they’re trying to get scared, but can’t be because the kid in front of them pointed everyone out or is crying. We shouldn’t have to pause to clean up lipstick graffiti or getting into arguments with customers. Their should be an age limit, or a maturity limit as to who goes through scary mazes, whether it’s at a Girl Scout center or a professional maze such as those of Knott’s Scary Farm, it ruins the fun for everyone. And for those like me, who have to go to school the next day with a black eye.
This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.